Thursday, October 15, 2015

Why you're working an extra 16 minutes a week

Feel like you're working longer days? That's because if you're a typical Australian worker, you are.

The latest employment figures show that, on average, we are each putting in a quarter of an hour more per week than this time last year.

The working week has grown over a year in which the unemployment rate has stayed put, suggesting that had employers put on extra workers rather than work their existing workforce harder, unemployment would be a good deal lower.

Australia's unemployment rate stayed steady at 6.2 per cent in September, the same rate that prevailed in September 2014.

But in September 2014 the average full-time worker put in 39 hours and 13 minutes per week. The total is now 39 hours and 29 minutes, a jump of 16 minutes.

The average part-time worker put in 16 hours and 42 minutes per week. The total is now 16 hours and 56 minutes, a jump of 14 minutes.

The extra hours are a sign of improving business conditions that aren't yet matched by improved business confidence.

The National Australia Bank's measure of business conditions has climbed from near-neutral to positive over a year in which its measure of business confidence has failed to grow.

Without confidence that better conditions will continue, it makes sense to put on more hours rather than hire more workers who might be difficult to keep.

Rough estimates suggest that if employers had put on more workers instead of increasing the number of hours their existing employees worked, about 291,000 Australians would have gained jobs over the past year instead of 230,100...

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash described the trend as "very healthy", saying that in the past nine months 160,300 jobs had been created, the highest number in a nine-month period for five years.

NSW has been responsible for the vast bulk of the jobs growth, boosting employment by 100,500. Queensland lifted employment by 28,000, Victoria by 15,600 and Western Australia and the Northern Territory by 5200 and 4500 respectively.

Employment grew by just 1100 in the Northern Territory, by 800 in Tasmania and by 600 in the Australian Capital Territory.

In The Age and Sydney Morning Herald